Classic Crepes (gluten-free option)

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Fall, friends! It’s here, and I don’t know about you but I’m ready. Hello, excessive amounts of anything with pumpkin and apple pies. Hello, my favourite season.

The term has once again started, and with it comes a sense of both excitement and dread. To be intellectually stimulated is one thing, but it’s important to not let the intimidation of new, bright faces obfuscate any goal, be it professional or personal.

Enough with my obsession with pancakes. I let crepes take over this time. Sometimes a change of breakfast routine is all you need to feel excited about a new season, a new beginning, a new.. anything. These crepes can be made with any flour you wish, however buckwheat or spelt does result in a fluffier crepe with a more interesting flavour dimension. I never was a buckwheat gal, but decided to experiment with the rather wholesome-looking grain after a friend of mine whipped up a delicious buckwheat veggie dish for me last year, and since it’s free of gluten, it’s worth a try for my increasing number of gluten-free peeps. What’s more, more buckwheat, barley, brown rice and basically anything not scarily white is a good way of reducing intake of refined sugar and carbohydrate, for as much as I (and most of us) love the stuff, it does nothing for the brain or body, and can possibly trigger terrible eating habits.  Furthermore, it’s exciting just knowing that buckwheat:

  • is full of the bioflavonoid rutin, which contains quercetin (also abundant in apples), and is thus of higher nutritional value than many other grains. Rutin helps with blood circulation and lowers cholesterol, to name just a few things.
  • is full of magnesium (supports respiratory health and helps restore normal sleep patterns), copper (helps the body absorb iron), and manganese (can improve bone health and reduce inflammation)

Makes it all a bit more exciting to put together. So you just whisk a few ingredients together, smack a quarter-cup of batter each time onto a hot pan, spread it out a little, flip to cook the other side for a short while, and there you have it– incredibly soft, tender crepes. The uniqueness of this dangerously delicious breakfast lies in its versatility– there’s a lightly toasted nutty flavour that can be combined with almost any flavour topping, although my personal favourite is coconut yoghurt and plenty of frozen but thawing summer berries on top.

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Crepes (makes 4-6, enough for one hungry person, scale up as necessary)

Ingredients

65g buckwheat flour (sub: plain or spelt flour)

pinch of salt

200ml plant milk of choice (I used oat)

1/2 tbsp ground flaxseed

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp vegetable oil/melted vegan butter (sub: normal butter)

Directions

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together all the ingredients well. The batter should be pourable but not too wet, so if it seems too thick, add a tablespoon of milk, and if it seems too thin, add a little more flour. Heat your pan (add a little oil if it’s not a nonstick pan) on medium heat. Flick a splash of water on it to see if it sizzles, to check if the pan is hot enough to use. Once it is hot enough, add a quarter-cup of batter to the pan and use the back of the cup measurement to spread the batter out into a thin circle. Be careful here– you don’t want the batter to be too thin, as this will lead to easy breakage afterwards when you try and flip the crepe.  Cook the first side until you see the edges of the crepe firm up, then slide your spatula carefully underneath and flip the crepe. Cook the second side for a little shorter, about a minute or so. Place the cooked crepe on a paper towel and roll it up before placing on a serving plate. Continue to do this for the remaining amount of batter. Serve with thick coconut yoghurt, tahini, berries and maple syrup!

 

Linzer Torte

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After Linz, in Austria, and said to be the oldest cake in the world. I love how a new recipe lets in some learning. It’s so easy to forget how something so ubiquitous so brims with history. Imagining this torte being caressed by a medieval stranger in 1696 and then being made by someone in the current century is mystical, almost haunting.

Have finally settled into the new house before the advent of a new term, routine is taking form once more; something I’m so grateful for and excited about after a deleterious flight which messes up the mind and shakes up calm. Excitement must be the shorthand term for what I felt once reunited with some favourite people after what seemed to be forever. It only seemed natural to bake something to celebrate. Something incredibly simple but so satisfying.

The crust is traditionally laced with ground almonds and made with egg yolks. It’s also typically decorated with flaked almonds, but  I made do with just a simple lattice and sugar to top before the oven-throw. The filling is probably the easiest in the world. I made do with raspberry jam, which you can make yourself or simply use store-bought. Once baked, the interior becomes thick, glistening and gooey, perfectly holding form for clean cuts and gooey bellies.

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Linzer Torte (makes one 9-inch tart)

Ingredients

165g plain flour, plus more for the counter

100g ground almonds

155g caster sugar

150g cold butter, cut into cubes

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg, beaten

250g good quality raspberry jam

 

Directions

Grease your tart tin and preheat your oven to 190C. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, ground almonds and salt. Rub in the cubes of butter into the flour mix until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the egg and mix until you get a moist dough. Since this dough is quite sticky, I found it helpful to lightly flour the tin and my hands for easy molding. Remove about a quarter of the dough and set aside, this will be for the lattice top. Take the bulk of the dough and press neatly into the bottom and up the shallow sides of the tart tin. Press the dough into the ridges of the sides of the tin, and use a sharp knife to trim off excess around the rim.

Fill the tart with the raspberry jam and spread it around evenly. Flour your work surface and put the remaining quarter of dough you set aside on the surface. Roll into a rectangular slab that’s 3mm thick and just long enough to stretch the diameter of your tin. Cut into 6 strips. Lay three on your tart horizontally, and then the next three vertically.

Sprinkle the top of the tart with caster sugar, then bake for 25 minutes. Check at the 20-minute mark. It should be golden-brown on top, and some jam may be seeping in between the lattice hold. That’s ok, nice and rustic. Cool in the tart tin for at least 10 minutes before removing, slicing and serving.

London Eats: Friends Of Ours

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It’s official– my love and passion for french toast overrides that for so many other things in my life. It’s just not on. But at the same time, some flaws should be embraced. Hence my decision to do a conclusive write-up some time in the future on my favourite french toast places here in London!

Starting with the lovely little Friends of Ours. Goodness have I missed writing about these café adventures. Judgement will be based on:

  • that lovely saturation in the middle of sufficiently-thick bread slices
  • browning
  • usage and appropriateness of toppings

Though I won’t be able to write about every single place I try, the conclusive write-up will comprise my main favourites, so keep an eye out for that.

There’s something special about making a gala out of little trips like this. Yeah, there’s something special about making a very big deal out of your favourite food in the entire world.

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This little hideaway is adorable. Unpretentious, cosy, with service that can’t be beat. Fresh pastries and sandwiches adorn the counter, and though I’m no proper coffee expert, my affinity for long blacks has earned me some sort of coffee brew intelligent quotient, and the cuppa that greeted me seriously hit the spot.

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Organic brioche french toast, roasted pears with rosemary and vanilla, clotted cream and shortbread crumble– £8.50

Long black– £2.20

What. A pretty picture. A slice of perfect thickness. The eggy, nicely-browned crust and exterior made me envision the battered slice hitting the heat of the pan, cooking thoroughly and quickly. Would have preferred a slightly more saturated and moist middle, but that’s really only because I like the texture to reach the point whereby there’s no problem flaking off bites with a fork. Almost ‘raw’, one could say. The roasted pear was tender and flavourful, offering sweet tangy notes to the bready base. So much more impressive than that served at another café I visited recently (here was hardly any on the plate and what was served was so cooked down that ‘saccharine’ would be a severe understatement as a description).

That, the shortbread crumble and clotted cream are what made every bite truly indulgent. Creamy, crunchy, soft. The toast itself provided a good medium for all the flavours to work together well. If anything, a more citrusy option or additive to this french toast would propel it to greater heights. Looked at the menu again, and cursed myself for only having one stomach. I’m dying to return just for that coconut rice pudding (how good does that sound?) or eggs. More coffee, of course.

Made my way to Shoreditch, freezing and hopeful. What I had warmed my stomach and heart. Hurry down to try their gorgeous brunch fare and coffee, armed with a good read. The solo, well-spaced tables and chairs make it easy to lose yourself in your thoughts or focus on some work.

Friends of Ours

61 Pitfield St, London N1 6BU

Mon-Fri: 8am-5pm

Sat: 9am-5pm

Sun: 10am-5pm

Frozen berry pudding (two options)

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I never was one of those girls who have greek yoghurt and fruit (maybe honey, oh my!) for breakfast. Nah. I always needed something carby, or at least warm. The typical day starts with warm oats and tea. Hot on hot on hot… Yes, in this bloody hot weather. But (there’s always a but). I’ve recently experienced a health kick, and decided to experiment a little with all the frozen berry smoothies I’ve been seeing all over the internet. It’s always ‘frozen this’ and ‘frozen that’. The trend has seriously taken the world by storm, but I tweaked it just a little so one need not have to blend everything the morning of. Tired? Got work? Then try this. You may not be the greek yoghurt girl with logos strapped across her bottom, but nevertheless it’s worth a go.

It’s filling, nourishing, chock-full of antioxidants and vitamins. Creamy yet sharp, pseudo-lush yet clearly one of the most healthy things you can have in the morning. This would traditionally be called a smoothie/slushy/ice-cream variant, but I label it a pudding because that’s the word that jumped at me the moment I dug my spoon in the bowl the next morning. Thick, not quite the full-on pudding consistency, but still more pudding-like to me than anything. The chia seeds voluminised the entire body of fruit, so it almost seemed aerated. There are 2 options for this recipe: blend it all in the morning, or blend most the night before, mix in the chia and let sit in the fridge overnight. The second yields a more liquidy, pudding-like result, whilst the former is like ice cream’s sister. Outrageous.

Frozen berry pudding (for 1)

one cup frozen mixed berries

half frozen banana (you can pop in the chopped up banana in the freezer earlier in the day)

40ml milk of choice (I used my mum’s ridiculously thick and creamy almond milk)

pinch of salt

one teaspoon maca/acai/vanilla/cacao powder (optional)

one tablespoon chia seeds

Toppings: nut butters, sliced banana, honey, whatever your heart desires

Option 1: Blend everything except the toppings in a blender (I used a Vitamix) and serve yourself some morning ice-cream!

Option 2: Blend the first 5 ingredients in a blender, then dish out into a bowl. Mix the chia seeds throughly into the thick and cold mixture. The next morning, take the mix out of your fridge and top with whatever you like.

Kilo at Pact

Kilo at Pact

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This one’s specially for Felix(:

I had been meaning to come here, though to me, Orchard Central isn’t the most particularly ideal destination. All these escalators, all these random jutting corners, as if the designers only thought properly about the layout after it was all set up and built. But fusion food? I was up for the stuff. And so was he.

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Donburi salmon rice bowl (all rice bowls come with sweet corn, radishes, sugar peas, wasabi sprouts, shimeji mushrooms and cherry tomatoes) – $17
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salmon avocado ‘sushiro’– $17

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They are currently having a set lunch promotion, whereby you can get either a salad, sushiro (I love how they do a nice play on our grotesque accents here) or rice bowl, together with a citrus iced tea and a choice between two desserts– basil panna cotta or a lemon tart with fresh cream. All for around $20++. Since we were in a rush for a movie (I teared up an embarrassing amount during The Fault in Our Stars, though I might have enjoyed it more if it weren’t for the mediocre book), we just ordered two mains, but each was satisfying enough!

I thoroughly enjoyed my donburi salmon rice bowl, a relatively new addition to the menu. They also offer pork belly, beef short-rib and roasted vegetables with tofu options. The salmon could have been more tender and with a little teriyaki marination, for otherwise it was a little dry and bland. You know, it’s always easy to put ‘sweet corn’ in the menu, and I could almost imagine them pouring the bright yellow stuff out from a can, but these kernels were as crunchy as the almost-burnt crusts of toast and as sweet as can be. The avocado was a nice touch, but it was a little lonely green sliver amongst the mounds of superior vegetables, and should have been accompanied by some sauce or other– I’d say a sweet soya or shabu-shabu variety. Anything, really. The highlight of the whole thing was most certainly those sweet, marinated shimeji mushrooms. Tender, sweet and fresh, and paired perfectly with the more hardy stance of brown rice. I chose brown because I enjoy its chewy wholesomeness and frankly I get enough sushi rice in my life already. Everything was dandy, but a little overpriced. 17 bucks demands serious business for a bowl of rice, fish and vegetables. Let’s be real.

That being said, the portions were perfectly satisfying, and I think I shall return for the set lunch option. The sushiro Lix ordered was proper huge, served with nacho-style chips (which I thought needed more seasoning, whatever brand they’re sourced from), and wasabi and soy. The ambience here is lovely; there was gorgeous, soft light streaming through the wide top-to-toe windows that early afternoon, but they could do with more tables to accommodate more people.

One thing is for sure though– lunches with this guy are the best.

 

 

Rating: 4.4/5.0

Kilo at Pact

#02-16/18
Orchard Central
Singapore